Consider the sentence:

He has gone.

This is one of the example auxiliary verb sentences from: "Radford, A. English syntax: An introduction, Cambridge University Press, 2004"

has is an auxiliary verb, gone is a normal verb.

Compare to the sentence:

He has a dog.

Here has is a normal verb.

I am wondering if seeing if two verb are in a row is a necessary and sufficient condition for the first to be an auxiliary?

  • 1
    The way the question is formulated, it seems to fit better at English.SE or ELL.SE. Jul 14, 2015 at 13:06
  • @bytebuster Why ELL.SE? I can kinda understand English.SE, but this seems way too advanced for ELL (though I don't really know, not going on ELL much). Jul 14, 2015 at 13:54
  • Of course not. "I ran kicking the dog"
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 15, 2015 at 21:09

1 Answer 1



Your rule mostly works, but "in a row" fails to capture constructions like "He has definitely gone", where has is still an auxiliary.

In fact, trying to analyse syntax just by considering the surface sequence is usually doomed to failure.


I am walking.


I went walking.

Both have the same surface structure, but most analyses would consider am an auxiliary, but went not one: walking is a complement of the full verb went.

  • 1
    So, your first count example shows it is not sufficient, and the second shows it is not necessary, right? Jul 14, 2015 at 14:49

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